Air India pilots firm on strike if dues not cleared

National carrier Air India is facing more turbulent weather ahead as critical crew including pilots have threatened to go on strike from 2 April if their long-pending dues are not cleared by the end of this month.

Such a strike at the start of the summer holiday season would deal a further blow to the state-owned carrier's finances.

Despite several government bailouts, AI remains deep in the red. This is largely due to a bloated staff and poor management, apart from the rise in fuel prices and a dwindling number of passengers that have affected all of India's seven airlines.

There are as many as seven unions in the airline; including those representing the now defunct Indian Airlines that was merged with AI a few years back. All the unions, in a joint action, have sought a written assurance from the AI management that employees' dues would be cleared.

An AI official said that all efforts are being made to clear the dues and expressed hope that the employees would not resort to any action that would be "detrimental" to the airline during the crucial holiday season.

He said that though some of the unions have warned of a strike action, the management is hopeful an amicable solution acceptable to all would be worked out soon.